Thursday, August 16, 2012

National Weekend 2012

For me, National Weekend really sums up what Hot Rod racing is about - everyone all together in the pits having a good time and usually with the best racing of the year to go with it.

This year was the same as previous years with us heading up early on the Friday morning ready for the practice session.  Dad drove the lorry to the gate then headed back to work, leaving me to wait in the seemingly endless queue till it was time to go in.   All I’m going to say is thank God I had my iPad otherwise they might have been a very boring few hours!

Once I was in and everything was set up and sorted for the weekend it was time to wait for the practice.   We’d just fitted new brake pads so the main objective was to get them bedded in.   With three practice runs the first one was rather slow while I got the brakes sorted before heading in and fitting new tyres ready to rub them in during the next practice.    With the new tyres on the car felt brilliant and the brakes seemed perfect too so I was debating whether to go out for a third time or load it back up ready for Saturday.   I decided in the end to put old tyres back on and head out for another go.   It was ok but felt like something wasn’t ‘quite right’.  A closer inspection revealed the wheel spacers were all stuck to the inside of the new wheels, meaning I’d been running round the track with no spacers and the wheels all over the place.

I would just like to add in now that I was there on my own rushing around like a fool and I want to say a massive thanks to Gavin Taber for coming and helping me out over the weekend, you got me out of several tight situations mate!

With the practice finished, the car checked over ready for Saturday and loaded back into the trailer, it was time for what is quite often my favourite night of the year.   After a shower in Robert McDonald’s lorry and a good feed courtesy of John (and a few others!) it was time to head over to the bar.   It’s one of the only times in the year when all my friends are in the same place just generally having a good time.  Now in recent years I have been the last man up and crawled into the truck at some unholy hour, then woken up next morning feeling like the world has fallen to bits around me!   I’m either getting old or turning into a more sensible person (which I doubt very much) and after a couple of beers and a chat I retired off early to the comfort of Gavin’s new lorry (he was staying at a hotel) to get a good nights sleep.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling fresh and ready.   I got everything sorted and was eager to go out and give it my best shot.   It wasn’t to be though with it all going terribly wrong first bend of the first race and me ending up in the Armco almost straight away.   Now if I’m honest I was prepared to just cut my losses, load the car up and call it a day, but this is where National Hot Rods is so brilliant; people appeared from everywhere and with very little help from me the car was repaired and ready for the next race.    I will add here that whilst all this was going on it was absolutely torrential rain and the pits went from dry to flooded in minutes. I really can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who dropped everything to come to my aid.   It’s nice to know you have such great friends and people who are so willing to help you.   I have never seen so many people working on one car!  I’m sorry if I have left anyone out but massive thanks to Gavin, Chris, Nick, Gerry, Nigel, Gareth, Colin, Jay, Ben, Sarah and Elaine.

So with the car back out on track and me starting last it was time to go for it, in the only complete race I would do all weekend.  Things went well, the car felt right again and I managed to go from 24th to finish 14th, so not a bad race.

As the third race approached the rain was looming again and after a quick tyre change from Chris and Nick the car was on wets and on the track.   Now somehow it was a complete contrast to the car I had been driving in the dry just an hour before.   I couldn’t even touch the throttle without it wanting to spin.   After a spin in the warm up lap and again on the second lap of the race I gave it up as a bad job and pulled off . . . . .  with it my hopes of qualifying again disappearing.   It wouldn’t have been so bad but I was starting pole and my Mum and Dad had just arrived!

So after what can only be described as a disaster of a day, the car was again loaded in the trailer ready for the Saturday night to start.    It was pretty much a repeat of Friday night the only difference being that John must have gone back to Scotland to fetch the Chinese meal we’d decided on for supper judging by the time it took!    Again, after a couple of drinks I retired early back to Hotel Scania to get another good night’s sleep . . . . . . ready for what can only be described as the biggest race of the year next day!

I’m sure most of you will have heard about the bike race, Jason and I did - one lap of the track in fancy dress to raise money for Fords Care.   All I can say is I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.    We thought we might raise £500 if we were lucky, so to total slightly over £1400 was truly amazing.  Either that or you just wanted to see us dressed as women!   Also, a big thank you to Martin Kingston for the outfits.    And so it was looking like complete fools we both took to the track on our bikes.  Just to boost my ego a little bit I will say that I won but it was great and thanks so much to everyone for their very generous donations.   It’s still hard to take in how much we raised.     Oh yes and thanks to Adam Maxwell for the soaking with the water pistol!

The  main race over it was time for the stars of the past race and it was great to see such legends back out in the old cars.  It turned into pure carnage and it was great to see Chris Kew take the win.   Maybe you should let him race the National, Jason!

With me on the sidelines for the National Championship it was always going to be a good race but with the rain coming down as they lined up it opened it up even more.   After a quick tyre change on John’s 629 machine it was back to the pits to watch it all unfold.  Now it’s fair to say Gary Woolsey was a man on a mission but I guess it just wasn’t to be his day with a puncture putting him out of the race, handing the lead and ultimately a well deserved win over to a very fast moving Glenn Bell.   Jason took a great and again much deserved second and Kym Weaver took an incredible third from starting almost last on the grid - fantastic drive!

With only the Grand National left to go we made a few changes to the car and I went out and started last on the grid.  The car was leagues better in the wet this time and I found myself slowly moving up, but the film in my goggles snapped leaving me unable to see anything at all and forcing another retirement - I was gutted, but it’s one of those things.

So that’s another National Weekend over and we are well on the way to getting the car ready for Northampton and the 2013 qualifying campaign.  A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who sponsored us, helped me with the car, fed and watered me and just generally looked after me.   I’ve said it many times before and will say it many times again - “Hot Rod folk are the best folk in the world.”    Now let’s see what this season holds in store!

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


No comments:

Post a Comment